Kelby Woodard, headmaster of Saint Thomas Academy was recently honored as the 2022 recipient of the MINNDEPENDENT Leadership Award in the 9-12 category. Woodard, who is in his second year in the position, was chosen for his swift actions to build trust, demonstrate transparency and listen to the needs of faculty, students and parents.
Since joining Saint Thomas Academy on July 1, 2020, Woodard has advanced initiatives including:
- Weekly Headmaster Update videos to demonstrate transparency, recognize accomplishments of staff and students, and instill confidence and excitement for the school.
- A much-anticipated $6-million campus improvement project during summer 2021.
- Weekly, small-group student-listening sessions over a Chick-fil-A lunch.
- The Trustees' Chair for Educational Advancement grant, which challenges faculty to develop innovative new curriculum or teaching methods. One idea will be chosen and funded ($5,000-$15,000) each year.
- A diversity and inclusion initiative, including a complete review of all processes, procedures, and curriculum with an eye for equity and inclusion. Resulting changes have started to rollout across the school.
MINNDEPENDENT produced a video on Woodard for the 14th Annual Private and Independent Education Awards ceremony, held on Sunday, May 1.
Woodard has been a strong advocate for private education for years. His five children have all attended private elementary and secondary schools. Prior to Saint Thomas Academy, he was founding president of Cristo Rey Jesuit Prep School in Dallas, bringing a private Catholic education to children from low socioeconomic backgrounds. Before that, he was elected to two terms in the Minnesota House of Representatives, serving as lead for Education and Finance Reform, a role in which he authored a bill to advance tax credits for private school tuition.
The MINNDEPENDENT Leadership Awards recognize the hard work and dedication of school leaders who instill passion in people they work with, bring innovative ideas forward and advocate for the importance of private and independent education in Minnesota.